No Bullsh*t: How To Not Sound Like an Idiot

TAGS: No Bullsh*t: How To Not Sound Like an Idiot, learning continuum, learning, advice, education, david allen, coaching, dave tate

The other day, when I happened to be standing around the gym, I overheard a casual conversation about training when someone mentioned Louie. A young member who was about 18 years old exclaimed that he hated Westside and thought that Louie was an idiot. Although I laughed off the response before I set out to begin my own training, I couldn’t help but wonder what had caused this kid to form such a staunch opinion about a certain powerlifting coach. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more confused and upset I got. This kid had been training less than a year, he had received no formal education in strength and conditioning (nor had he received an informal education in strength and conditioning), and he had accomplished nothing in the sport himself. He had also never trained anyone who accomplished anything in the sport, had never met Louie, had never been to Westside, and had never even read Westside Book of Methods (or any other book for that matter). From my perspective, he shouldn’t even have an opinion. He should be a blank slate—an empty sponge soaking up as much information as possible and then slowly starting to form an educated opinion.

But I guess when you’re 18 years old that’s not quite how your mind works. I know it’s not how mine worked. So, I began thinking off all the things I thought I knew when I was younger...before I realized how wrong I really was. I remember Dave Tate talking about the continuum of learning. It starts with a period in which you don’t know anything, then you learn a little and you think you know everything. Then, as you begin to learn more, you realize how much you really don’t know.

Sometimes realizing you really don’t know shit can be a major ego hit and can throw a monkey wrench in your internet trolling skills. However, if you can get over that little hump, you can set yourself up for long-term success. Here are several methods you can utilize to help take you from Mr. Know-It-All to a legitimate strength and conditioning scholar.

1. Read one article a day from a different author.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is clinging onto every word a specific author puts out because he/she was the first person to “show them the light.” This blind commitment tends to lend a person to shut down any conflicting information as blasphemy. Yet, the fact of the matter is that there are many roads leading to Rome and we just don’t have all the answers yet. Conflicting opinions and methods can still yield great results, and the best way to strengthen your own training theories is to challenge them. This method can also be applied to books that you read. If you find an author you really enjoy, by all means read as much of his/her material as you can, but also expand your search for knowledge to other authors as well.

2. Spend as much time around people bigger, stronger, and smarter than you.

Being a big fish in a small pond is great...until you get dropped into the ocean. I remember going to my first powerlifting meet and seeing guys hitting my maxes in the warmup room. Most top-level guys had some help along the way and are willing to pay that forward—if you’re willing to listen. This is one of the many reasons I look forward to the Learn to Train seminars. There is such a concentrated amount of strength and knowledge in a single place that you don’t have any choice but to learn.

3. Coach someone.

The greatest learning opportunity out there is the chance to teach what you already know to someone else. This will challenge how well you really know whatever material you are presenting, and it will challenge you to become more malleable in your methods. It is easy to read a study and think, “I am going to do everything like this, this, and this”...until you are thrown a curveball and none of what you studied applies. Hands-on application of knowledge is the best method for testing how well what you learned really works. The gym is your laboratory.

4. Stay away from the following:

  • Self-Proclaimed “Gurus": a qualified person shouldn’t have to proclaim himself, he should have plenty of people who do it for him
  • People who don’t practice what they preach: no one likes the science nerd who tells you how to get 21-inch guns but only has 10-inch arms himself. On a similar note, don’t just be a meathead, be a smart meathead.
  • People trying too hard to sell you something: usually these are the same people as the self-proclaimed gurus. We all try to make a living off our knowledge, but the trainer who is more like a used car salesman is someone to stay away from.
  • People who have the “secret”: the secret is work hard and don’t be a dumbass (in the gym and in life). Anyone telling you something different is an asshole.
  • Greg Glassman: that dude is crazy.

Be quick to listen and slow to open your mouth. When you do, be able to solidify what you say with real-world evidence and you will go a long way with making friends and furthering your own knowledge.

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